London Ride - April Fools edition

As I stand there camera in hand about to capture Mikey B dropping in on the first set at Pall Mall I

As I stand there camera in hand about to capture Mikey B dropping in on the first set at Pall Mall I think to myself 'wow that's a pretty big drop on a hardtail'. He starts to roll and as he approaches the lift off section I slowly start to pan the camera down in preparation for the drop - but hold on he hasn't dropped! So I think to myself maybe he's not ready yet - but he was ready alright. Just as I thought he was about to chicken out, he proceeded on to the second set, popped off the ledge and just plummeted stairwards!
That's 12-13 feet down onto concrete stairs and he nailed it a little front heavy but he remains on the bike and everyone goes nuts! First to congratulate him was Frank from the SSS crew with a hug then along comes his cousin Jim with a hearty slap and the back and a 'well done mate' comment and then everyone else bundles in for some action.

This was for me one of the highlights of the day. I was in attendance at the November 4UM ride and that just blew my mind away and I thought to myself as this ride approached 'can this ride be better then that one?' Well the simple answer to that is YES! Mikey B's drop was just one of a whole load of insane moves to happen on this glorious sunny Sunday afternoon in April.

The day started as usual at Waterloo station with coffee and a pastry from an overpriced place on the station concourse. Now I am not one to moan but please could they get someone to serve that understands 'no chocolate on my cappuccino please'.
Right, sorry, whinge over now; so I stood there on the concourse with me homie boy 'Tiny Tom' and I looked round and this time I knew people there. It was nice to say hi to these guys I hadn't seen since November, it was like a school reunion but with people you actually wanted to see. The group started to grow and grow and we knew some new guys were about to arrive as you could hear a voice over the PA system 'can those boys on the bikes please refrain from riding on the concourse!' Ha ha, great it had started already.

As the group had grown to a suitable size and as time pressed on us we headed off to southbank to meet up with all the other riders that had come into London via other stations and the warm sessions began and everyone caught up with each other and how they were doing. So, much to the joy of the skaters we all started to roll out towards Brixton and those that weren't riding Brixton made their way to session elsewhere and meet with us later on in the day.

As we arrived at Brixton I thought to myself 'what a stupid way I just brought us here' as I think we covered 3-4 miles just to get there but it was a great fun ride there everyone was so hyper and excited about Brixton I think there was maybe 5-6 of us that had ridden out of the 30 or so riders there. Anyhow we all piled into the park and everyone that was there just stopped and gawped as 30 MTB riders just invaded there park! Now this is my local spot and I ride there quite often with the other UrbanLondon riders and I was a little concerned about the impact we would have and if I would be able to come back. So I went and did a little PR with the locals and they were cool, they stayed in their bit and we stayed in ours.

As I expected the park was being ripped to bits and the quality of riding was absolutely top notch. The main bowl has a nice 7 foot high hip on it and that was the main point of focus as it resembles a dirt jump I suppose and depending on your line the gap can be 2-3 foot or up to 10 feet with a slight angled landing so everyone was kept happy. Every imaginable trick was being pulled on the hip. We had one footers, no footers, one handers, seatgrabs, frame grabs, 180's, 360's 720's, (sorry got carried away there - there were NO 720's) manuals, crankflips, footplants, turndowns and turn-ups (hold on a sec turn-ups weren't they once fashionable and now coming back into fashion? Hmm...
All of sudden everything seemed to stop. I look round to spot Simon Brettle (Kettle) in the far corner of the park. As he starts pedalling towards me I move aside not really sure what is about to happen. All of sudden he pops in to frame on my camera and I track him as he effortlessly pumps out of the park via one of the bowls over the 4 foot high brick wall that surrounds the park and plops himself down onto the pavement. Cheers fill the park and Kettle rolls back into the park to have another go, as you do, only this time throws in a little no-footer and what seems to be a crank spin! Well that just got everyone hyped up and we all return to ripping around the bowls.

Now Brixton is my local riding park even though I take two trains to get there from Leatherhead. Since I have been coming here there is one line I have looked at and wondered if anyone's done it or not? Apparently there have been a couple of BMXer's that have done it but it sounded more like a folklore story. Before I even mention it Kettle is proceeding to check the gap. Now we are talking about 16-17 foot gap which has a 1-2 foot step as well. It reminds me of the gap Oggy did in Issue167. Similar to Oggy's run-up this one was not nice, it was along the Stockwell Road, a hop onto pavement and then squeeze through the gap into the park.

After a while Kettle disappears out of the park only to return very shortly after pedalling like made man. He straightens up and then proceeds to launch himself skywards, he must have about 6-7 feet of air as he sails above me and lands quite comfortably on the landing ramp! Everyone goes bonkers and soon after Kettle is off again but this time with Mikey B in tow. After a short wait for traffic the two of them come streaming into the park and fly the gap. They both clear it with the greatest of ease and just being beneath them as they fly above is amazing! On the second run together Mikey B adds a little tweak to his flight whilst Kettle opts for the no footer seatgrab. What a loon.

After that there was little else to do there so we all had a little ride around and then headed off to Maccy D's for a well deserved rest and burger. After the brief rest stop all riders had now all descended on the tried and tested iMax stairs. As usual it was full on action there with huge 10-12 rider trains running down the double set. Every trick was being thrown down and the action was fast and frantic with train after train of riders and also Matt and his mate going down the stairs side by side!.
All was going well till Phil approached the stairs: as he came down all went pear-shaped and he came crashing down face first, grinding straight into the wall of the subway... It's not a nice thing to see but luckily for him he had gloves and pads on but most importantly a helmet! Otherwise it could have been a lot worse than cuts, bruises and a broken bone in his hand. After a while we all moved onto the iMax triple and within 15-20 mins of being there disaster struck. Mikey B and Jamie came down the triple closely followed by Ian. Jamie got slightly hung up but managed to save it without eating concrete but poor Ian just came way too short. His bike hit the second flat section and sent him skywards on over the handle bars...
He came down the third set of stairs hands first and just dropped to the floor. Gasps and yelps came from the riders as they watched him on the floor in a lot of pain; I rushed over from the camera to see if he was ok and an ambulance was called immediately. Ian suffered two broken wrist and I think a fracture or break in his elbow. This is second hand knowledge from the forum. His helmet also had a massive gash along the side so again it could have been much, much worse. As he was being treated it all went very quiet and you could feel the tension in the air - no-one wanted to do those stairs now. As Ian was carted off a huge cheer went up and although he couldn't raise his hands, Formula 1 crash victim style, you could tell he knew we all were behind him.

From there we all moved onto the infamous drop zone that is the Pall Mall Triple. Mikey B was first up with a superb drop onto the second set! Not only that but it was on his On-One Gimp hardtail and as he landed he came down a little front heavy which resulted in four spokes getting trashed and bit of egg in the rim. Other than that it was a good solid drop.
Next up was Kettle and he didn't disappoint - on the last ride he hit the second set with ease and was going to go for the third but I think time, nerves, and the parks police put a stop to that. This time round it was no messing with a straight in there 18-20 foot drop from ledge to stair! Check the video in the videos section of the site - it's sick. The riders went mental, the tourists looked on in disbelief and a hundred cameras went click or bzzz (whatever sound a digital camera makes) he had nailed it! After general milling around everyone started dispersing into smaller groups some were going home and some onto southbank. A small group went back to Brixton, which I joined later on, but I remained with 20 or so guys and we headed to Hyde Park corner. I still don't understand why it happened but for some reason Colin found great satisfaction in flicking horse poop at everyone with his front wheel. Hilarious... Eventually we arrived at Hyde Park Corner after much poop dodging. There were two sets of doubles there, one fairly straight forward set and one with a little a little kink of a run up. Both provided some fine results and again Matt and his mate were jumping side by side with about a foot of thin air between them. After a few runs everyone started to make there various ways home and I headed back to southbank and then onto Brixton and Brockwell BMX track, but that's another story...

To sum the day up in a few words is difficult but I thoroughly enjoyed myself that day and look forward to many good rides. As street riding gets more and more popular I imagine some day you will find yourself cruising through your local town and always be on the look out for stairs, ledges and other ride able terrain that may have passed you eye on many occasions. But do remember that concrete and heads do not mix well and I do recommend wearing a helmet when riding street. If Phil and Ian were not wearing theirs then dread to think of how badly injured they would be. So its time for me to say bye for now and get well soon Ian!

Mark Neal

This article was published by BikeRadar, the world's leading source of bike reviews, gear reviews, riding advice and route information
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